THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — After Matthew Stafford, the Los Angeles Rams’ new quarterback, threw three interceptions this month in a joint follow with the Las Vegas Raiders, he and his teammates remained calm. Instead of pouting or slamming his helmet, he convened together with his coaches to debate what went unsuitable.
Les Snead, the group’s basic supervisor, additionally regarded relaxed as he watched from afar on a cloudy, wet afternoon. He had orchestrated the January commerce to accumulate Stafford, sending the group’s beginning quarterback, Jared Goff, and three draft picks, together with two first-round choices, to the Detroit Lions.
By including one in every of the best quarterbacks in the N.F.L. (Stafford’s 45,109 profession yards rank him fifth amongst energetic passers) however parting with the probability to draft in the first spherical till 2024, the group drastically raised its followers’ hopes for the fast future. Stafford’s follow turnovers, nonetheless, had a lot of them expressing angst on social media. According to Snead, they included one in every of his kids, a youngster, who texted him asking if “Stafford had a bad day.”
The curiosity in the group is smart. Until the commerce, the Rams had risked languishing in one in every of the N.F.L.’s hardest divisions. Now they’ve a 33-year-old quarterback who requested out of the solely franchise for which he had ever performed for a greater shot at soccer glory. The Rams’ window opens now.
“I think Matt’s at that point in his career where he’s played a lot of football, he’s made a lot of money and we’re now at that chapter of ‘OK, let’s do something special,’” Snead stated in an interview. “I think he’s looking at it like, ‘This is a good place to write my farewell chapters in this league.’”
The low season had the potential to be outlined by high-profile quarterback modifications. In an period through which Stafford’s friends have been emboldened to make use of their star energy to achieve leverage, both to hunt trades or to affect rosters, his requested breakup with the Lions stands out for being resolved peacefully, and privately. He believes his relationship with the group’s possession allowed the course of to maneuver easily.
“This could’ve gone a bunch of different directions, and I’m glad it went the way it did,” Stafford stated.
Despite shedding in the first spherical in all three of his playoff appearances over 12 seasons in Detroit, Stafford threw for over four,000 yards eight occasions and accomplished 38 game-winning drives. He knew he might nonetheless produce at an elite degree and needed to compete with a contender. Detroit completed 5-11 final season. Had he stayed for 2021, Stafford would have performed for his fourth head coach and third basic supervisor. He quietly requested a commerce and the Lions agreed, one thing he knew was not a assure.
In coaching camp scrimmages, Stafford delivered spectacular passes to receivers on throws with velocity and contact. Credit…Johm Mccoy/Associated Press
“I have to give them a ton of credit for how they approached it,” Stafford stated. “I think they knew, from 12 years of dealing with me, if I told them something, that was my word, and I knew I felt the same way about them.”
Other quarterbacks who had regarded for a change had completely different outcomes this low season. Rumors swirled that Aaron Rodgers needed out at Green Bay. Deshaun Watson reportedly requested a commerce from Houston. Russell Wilson requested for extra say in the Seattle Seahawks’ personnel choices. His agent, although, publicly disclosed a listing of groups Wilson would contemplate becoming a member of in a commerce.
When coaching camps opened, these quarterbacks rejoined their groups. In his circumstance, Stafford stated that he needed an open dialogue with the Lions and that he was grateful they agreed together with his perspective.
“I wasn’t in a mode of trying to be empowered, I just wanted to be honest,” he stated. “I just wanted to let them know how I was feeling, and it was really great for them to respect that and work with me on it.”
Initially, it appeared unlikely that Stafford would be part of the Rams. They had signed Goff to a four-year contract extension value $134 million in 2019 after he led them to a Super Bowl. But over the previous two seasons, Goff regressed, throwing 29 interceptions, inflicting Snead and Coach Sean McVay to hunt an improve. Stafford’s availability piqued each males’s curiosity.
“We felt maybe it was the right time, and this might be the right place to add all of those sets of variables together at that very, very important position,” Snead stated.
Stafford ought to resolve plenty of what ailed the Rams in 2020, when the group was 10-6 and misplaced to the Packers in the divisional spherical of the playoffs. They had one in every of the N.F.L.’s greatest defenses, anchored by lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey, however the offense didn’t often threaten downfield strikes and completed with solely 50 passing performs of at the very least 20 yards, rating 14th.
In coaching camp and in practices, Stafford delivered spectacular passes to receivers on throws with velocity and contact. Two of the interceptions in that scrimmage in opposition to the Raiders got here on tipped passes, errors that McVay stated could possibly be corrected as Stafford realized the new offensive system and the receivers adjusted to his timing.
“He’s one of those guys that elevates everyone around him,” Rams Coach Sean McVay stated of Stafford. Credit…Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press
“He’s one of those guys that elevates everyone around him,” McVay stated. “When things don’t go our way, I just like how even-keeled he is. He’s consistent.”
Unlike different stars on much less full groups, Stafford has not issued a listing of his needs or requested to weigh in on roster choices, although McVay and Snead stated they’d welcome his enter if he provided it.
“I’m the new guy here,” Stafford stated. “I’m just trying to show up and get my job right as best I can. I trust those guys and they’ve done a great job of building a program here that has a great atmosphere.”
With a roster stacked for a postseason run, Stafford can concentrate on what lies forward. Despite his numbers in Detroit, Stafford was chosen to only one Pro Bowl. This month, he watched as his former Lions teammate Calvin Johnson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Being in Canton, Ohio, and seeing the historical past round him made Stafford take into consideration his personal legacy and how much profession ending he might write in Los Angeles.
“I just want to play meaningful football and get to know these guys as well as I can and play for as long as I can here,” Stafford stated.